Friday, February 2, 2018

Did Cheese Chasers hold up?

It was inevitable that, as I have gone on exploring PnP solitaires, that I would end up revisiting Cheese Chasers. I made a copy and played it a few times back on 2009, around when it first came out. I had been playing Zombie in My Pocket at the time so I was more interested in PnP and solitaire than I usually was. (Obviously that’s changed!)

Cheese Chasers, at least as a solitaire, is a simple game that is made up of two sheets of tiles and nothing else. You lay out one tile randomly drawn at a time. Half of them are mice, which you use to surround cheese tiles and mousetrap tiles. Cheese for points and mousetraps since too many free mousetraps automatically loses the game. Plus there are cats who neutralize mouse tiles.

That rule I found the most interesting is that you either have to place tiles side to side (like every tile laying game known to humanity) or corner to corner. And I still like that. Mind you, the game would fall apart without that rule since surrounding cheese and mousetraps would be vastly harder without it. But it still doubles your options. And, coming back to Cheese Chasers after all these years, I really like the tension the mousetraps add. The game would be deathly dull without them.

Okay. Here goes. What do I think of Cheese Chasers now?

Some of the PnP games that I tried out back in the mists of time, quite frankly before I realized I was any kind of PnP guy, have held up surprisingly well. Micropul is elegant and it’s hand management is downright brilliant. Zombie in My Pocket is a luckfest but it is so tense and thematic.

Cheese Chasers... Well, it hasn’t held up as well. The decisions aren’t hard. You make a point of making a checker pattern of mice so you can fill in the holes with cheese and mousetraps and try and have room to stick cats off to the side. The fundamental tension of the game is if you can set up a pattern of mice before too many mousetraps come out.

Earlier this year, I tried out Autumn, another tile laying PnP. It’s even simpler than Cheese Chasers but it’s tighter in its simplicity and has more interesting decisions through out. I couldn’t help but compare the two games and Autumn was honestly better.

Cheese Chasers isn’t a terribly game. I’m interested in the multi-player variants that have come out since I tried it last and I can see it as a game to play with my son in a year or two. There are much worse free PnP games.

I have to admit that I am more forgiving when in comes to free PnP games. Cheese Chasers is a little dull and predictable but I don’t consider those fatal flaws in a game that took me five minutes to make and five minutes to play. It’s not great but I’ll give it some more plays.

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